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Books are a traditional Christmas gift in Iceland. They are often given as gifts on Christmas Eve, and people generally spend the evening reading.

Iceland’s literary Christmas tradition beckons bibliophiles

Christmas traditions span the globe and show differences in history, culture and many other things. In the U.S., the season for Christmas shopping generally kicks off the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, a day when in normal years people might spend hours lined up outside stores, hopeful of getting the best deal on the latest product.

Iceland has perhaps a more subdued tradition, and it centers on particular products commonly purchased as a Christmas gift across the country: books.

Most books published in Iceland are sold between late September and December every year. This is a national tradition known as Jolabokaflod, which translates roughly to “Christmas book flood.” Publishers release and promote large numbers of books in the months leading up to Christmas, and readings and book discussions become community events.

Iceland has a long and storied literary tradition. Their medieval sagas tell of the adventures and conflicts of the country’s early settlers.

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